As a bartender, I hear many stories. Some that are worth listening to, and some I tune out. My one customer talks about his mother. When I see him, he is woefully weary. His eyes glassed over with sadness. This was a story worth listening to.
He lived with his mother. At his age, I assumed that he would have spread his wings of independence. I never tackled that part of his story, it seemed to be a touchy one.
What I did know is that his mother was wealthy. She lived a good & happy life. She was also a very classy lady, stern on the correction of grammar and language. A woman who was never late on a single bill in her life, because she loved order. She used to be an excellent cook. In fact, she had a massive collection of high-end dollar pots, pans and cooking utensils to show for it. All of which I was told by her son.
Her son, the man who was sucking down a Budweiser bottle in front of me, expressing his pain.”Call your parents, tell them you love them. Don’t let time pass by, because you never know when they won’t remember you”
His mother has Alzheimer’s disease. First, it started with rearranging all of their things in the home. Forgetting to pay bills. Forgetting that she left the stove on. In her mind, she was just living her life. She never understood why her son was getting frustrated and concerned.
He would tell me how she would talk down to him & order him around. She would yell at him if he arranged anything around in the home or try to change back what she moved. This was not his mother. As frustrated as he was, he stayed kind. He knew that she was having a hard time with her confusion.
When he was around her, he would at times lose patience, but when he had a moment to escape, he saw his true mother. He would remember her the way that she used to be, of which due to unfortunate events, she is not anymore. It is a hard thing to bring to light.
After some years later, he made the hardest decision of his life…He put her in a nursing home. He cried that entire week. He felt guilty. Was he doing the right thing? Did she deserve that? She had raised him and this is how he repaid her? These were his thoughts..
Every time I ask him about how she’s doing, he always says, “She’s getting worse”. Today he expressed, “She doesn’t know who I am half the time. She lost her smile”. Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t just take away memory from the parent, it also takes away memory from the offspring.
Hearing all of these things makes me think – I never want to be like that. I never would want to be a burden to my child. Of course, I say this knowing there is no choice in the manner, however it doesn’t fade the fact that I would hate this feeling. I just wouldn’t want to be so bad off in my disease that I would lose my smile, my normal being and most importantly, forget who my son is. I feel the turmoil for both aspects. For the son that slowly watches everything he loved and knew about his mother completely disappear. For the mother who forgets her biggest blessing in life and gives grief to, when she spent her whole parenthood protecting his heart.
Once I reach an age of which I may be closer to this stage, I will be writing my son a letter. A letter of which I assume may help bring back such vivid and loving memories to reflect on whenever there are bad days. Something to help remember what gave us such a great bond and to not give up on me even though it may be hard.Even though it may be an insecure thought about my future, I rather be prepared than be forgotten.